The current project I work on had a slow start. There were to many things I worried about: I had an IPS and dissertation presentation today, assessment next week; I struggle with my finances and am looking for a new room to rent in September. I also started research my IPS, which was more fun but it also took precious time from the project.
I had several tutorials for this project. In my first tutorial, I discussed ideas and decided to do something based on masks and identity. My intention was to create a mask that reflects how communities create identities through celebrities and folk heroes. However, I was criticized for deciding the project's outcome before doing a proper research during my second tutorial. I listened to the criticism and did life-drawings in Peckham to generate ideas. This was very useful! Not only did I clear my mind, but I also found interesting places and objects that inspired me.
I went to my third tutorial this Monday, this time with another tutor. I showed her my sketches and discussed my previous idea. A dirty mirror turned out to be a turning point! Instead of trying to make 'the mask of Peckham', I would make a mask in mirrored card. After all, we use mirrors to reflect ourselves, to enforce our sense of personal identity. Today this role is taken over by selfies and social media, which both connects and alienates us: Even though I live in Peckham since October, I have only explored around 20-30% of the streets before I did my life-drawings.
I take masked selfies all around Camberwell and Peckham at this stage. The mask shows the alienation through hiding my face, my source of identification, while also highlighting my dependence of social media as a potential source of this alienation. Internet seduces me to chat with old friends, consume pop-culture, and plan for the future, rather than focus on the present and spend time with my classmates. If you look carefully, you may see my smartphone and/or the closest surroundings reflected in each photograph.
How can we break this isolation of the self? My personal solution lies in the act of walking. I often take a stroll when I hang out with my friends, chatting about everything that cross our mind while our bodies navigate through space. The act of walking also gives me a sense of power: Not only do I exhort my will and power over my body, but also over my surroundings. It feels that i de-mystify it in order to define it and ultimately control it. One of the first things I did first time I visited New York was to go for a 3 hours walk, just so I could get to know the city.
I plan to work more with this piece before our exhibition. I want to make a short video of the photographs like the auto generated Facebook videos, but I do not know how I should end it. Should I tear, cut, and break the mask every passing day, to show the gradual decrease of alienation? Or should I keep the mask intact since we cannot simply back away from internet and social media at this point?